An itinerary to discover another Rome: Coppedé neighborhood.

Near the historic center of Rome, between Viale Regina Margherita, a continuation of Via dei Parioli, and Corso Trieste, is a unique and singular neighborhood: Coppedé neighborhood.

 

The name is that of the Florentine architect that between 1915 and 1927 designed and made possible the construction of an enchanted and incredibly fascinating space. We, therefore, invite you to a unique walk that will let you discover a different Rome. A look at a perspective that moves away from the imperial and papal classicism, and offers a broad look with examples of art and architecture that link the capital to the greatest European artistic and cultural movements.

 

Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Rome was experiencing various urban changes, the city enlarged and new neighborhoods emerged: Nomentano, Salario, and Coppedé

 

Not really a neighborhood in the literal sense, but a series of villas and palaces, some of which of representation designed in a style that associates Liberty, Gothic and Renaissance influences to a symbolic imagination of the artist architect. Coming from via Tagliamento, you enter through a large archway, a door to enter another space and time. Look up and you will see a large skylight suspended above your heads, a real wrought iron chandelier with neo-gothic motifs that illuminates the night and reveals the path.

 

According to some scholars the whole neighborhood hides Symbolism of Masonic origin, surely esoteric. It can be considered as an initiatory pathway that leads to the acquisition of the multiform and changing knowledge. This refinement in the decoration tied to a legendary past was very much in vogue even in other major European cities.

 

London was enriched by the neo-Gothic Victorian style that the architects George Gilbert Scott and Charles Barry celebrated with the most famous neo-Gothic building, Westminster. Or, in Paris, where Eugénie Viollet-le Duc was presenting a clearly Gothic inspired architecture and not to mention Spain, in Catalonia, where Antoni Gaudi made Barcelona the city emblematic of his spiritual and naturalistic beliefs, creating the Sagrada Familia.

 

These are, therefore, inspirations that an excellent man of culture, who was used to living in a family of artists since he was a child, and to knowing many of the Florentine artists of the late nineteenth century, assimilated with a particular sensibility. Indeed, in Coppedé neighborhood, there are examples of Art nouveau or Liberty Style, as the artistic movement was called in Italy, due to the huge reputation that the London store had received in our country.

 

Towers, steeples, railings, frescoes, turrets and lozenge windows help immediately create a peculiar atmosphere at once. The neighborhood spreads from a central square, Piazza Mincio, where La Fontana delle Rane (the frog fountain) stands right in the center of it. For Coppedé the frog is the animal symbol of metamorphosis, in both the realm of water and of earth, and for many of its contemporaries it almost recalled a kind of parody of Bernini’s famous Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle fountain).

 

Coppedé’s urban plan had to well balance the spaces between “representation” buildings such as embassies and institutes, and private homes. Immediately after crossing the great archway, one can find Palazzo dei Ragni (Spiders Palace), so called because a huge frescoed black arachnid decorates as a guardian the entrance to the building. One can also admire a black and ocher fresco that represents a knight between two griffins. Majestically, it immediately catches the eye. Throughout the neighborhood, one can sense this suspended and enchanted atmosphere, where a great example of this is the magical Villa delle Fate (Fairies Villa).

 

Already its modular structure with elegant and flowing lines, is an ensemble of decors and styles obtained by heterogeneous materials such as wood, glass, marbles and travertine, all contributing to creating the building’s eclectic façade. Furthermore, there are frescoes that have heart-rending recalls to Florence, the architect’s native city. Frescoes with Petrarch and Dante, others with flowers, bees, fairies (from which its name) in a fairy queen style, which recalls both the great Renaissance and the author’s passion for a hermetic symbolism.

 

The symbols are intertwined together, and include imaginary beings and animals with strong iconic powers; bees are a symbol of power and of laborious virtue, St. Mark’s lion is the protector of Venice, or the tree of life with its manifold symbolisms, such as the one of eternal life and the highest wisdom, and doves and zodiac signs. Surely, the great directors of horror movies could have not missed this location.

 

The Italian director Dario Argento has shot here many scenes from some of his films, amongst which Inferno and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, where the neighborhood’s quiet villas hide unspeakable secrets and obscure presences, when, during the quiet night, only the fountain’s jets articulate the time.

 

However, this is fiction and surely, it is best to imagine the luxurious life that has been spent in these extremely elegant environments over the years. While leaving this place, you will go back to the contemporary world with its noises, haste and traffic, all of which will make you even more appreciative of this incredible and unique side of an enchanted Rome.

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